Jan 082012

I’m back home in my cozy New York apartment after six hours in a cramped airplane middle seat with no TV.  So much for choosing the airline with personal TVs that puts “You Above All.”  On the bright side, the lack of DirecTV gave me some time to take a few naps, do some puzzles, and clean up my computer’s hard drive. Wow, that sounds super cool. Really though, it needed to be done. I haven’t organized anything on my computer in years. I found pictures of old dishes I considered writing about, task lists I wrote on some of my busiest of days, screenshots from various research endeavors, old papers from school, and snapshots from special occasions. It turned out to be a fun trip down memory lane, looking back in the kitchen of my old apartment and visits to places around the world.  After a weekend full of sharing old stories with my family out in California, and now again simply looking at some old computer files, I’m reminded that stories don’t always have to be shiny and new to be exciting.

So, for a series of ten posts, I’m going to take a step back into 2010 and 2011.  Whether it’s from trips I’ve taken, restaurants we’ve tried, or some food we cooked up in the kitchen, I’ll share some of my fondest food memories not-yet-shared from the past year and a half. To kick it off, I’m starting with my absolute top go-to recipe.  One that I almost can’t believe has never made it’s way on here, but I sort of can because, after all, this is not purely a recipe blog.

Memory Lane #1: A Recipe  – Chard and Beans

The photos below are from my first week in the new apartment.  If you look in the background you’ll see our entryway mirror still on the ground, not yet hung up on the wall.  I’m sure I made this dish because between our repainting, rearranging, and redecorating, it was so easy to whip up and the beans make it a really satisfying meal.

My first attempt at this recipe happened when we got Swiss chard in our CSA pickups last winter.   I found a recipe online, and modified it a bit because (1) I’m personally not a great fan of garbanzo beans and (2) I didn’t have any green onions at the time.  The aromatic lemony sauce that forms from wilted greens, shallots, tomatoes, and lemons is one that I adore, and I can easily eat this dish every week.

First up, put a couple of drops of olive oil in a pan with a diced shallot or two and some halved little tomatoes.  I only use 2 or 3 grams of oil, but you can use more if you like. I’ve used a whole tomato and diced that instead of the little ones too – either way works.

Let that cook for five minutes or so until it becomes fragrant and the shallots are turning translucent.

Next, add in your beans. I like white beans and will either drain and rinse a can if I don’t have any cooked up, or I’ll take a cup of beans out of the fridge if I’ve boiled some up for the week. If you know you’re going to make it ahead of time, you could defrost some frozen beans too.  Any which way works. Sometimes when I’m feeling a little spicy, I’ll add in a few red pepper flakes here too.

Let those warm through, and then top with your washed greens.  Don’t dry them off though – the droplets left behind from washing make a nice sauce for the dish.  If you’re using pre-washed greens, just run a handful under water to get some extra moisture in the pan.

Pictured above, I skipped the chard and used the spinach and arugula I had on hand.  I’ve used all sorts of greens – Swiss chard, escarole, spinach and arugula.  The Swiss chard is my favorite, but they all work out well.  Cover the pan, and let the greens steam.  If you’re doing chard or escarole, they will take a bit longer to cook through and a few turns in the pan with some tongs will help it along.  Add in a few tablespoons of fresh lemon juice at this point, and it’ll make a bit of a sauce that brightens up the whole flavor.  It’s only vegetables and cooked beans, so it’s done when you say it’s done.

Looks done to me!

And miraculously, this very meal was waiting for me – piping hot on a plate – when I walked in the door this evening after traveling all day.  It really is magical.









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